How to Track a Forwarded Domain in Google Analytics

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How to track a forwarded domain in google analytics-1

If you’re using a vanity URL for a marketing campaign, you want to make sure you’re tracking all those sweet leads in Google Analytics. 

There are two common situations in which you want to track a vanity URL:

  1. You’re using a vanity URL in some offline media and want to track how many people came to the site via those campaigns.
  2. You’re using a vanity URL online in various campaigns and want to track how many people came to the site via those campaigns.

Usually, people set up a vanity URL and then forward that domain to the live website. That’s easy to do and gets the traffic from point A to point B but does it work to collect data? 

Do Forwarded Domains Show as Referrers in Google Analytics?

The answer is “sometimes”. I have seen forwarded domains showing as referrers in Google Analytics, and I have seen that traffic just showing as Direct traffic in analytics. If you don’t really care to track the domain, then a straight domain forward will work. But you're a marketer worth your salt and you want to proove it, so here's how.

Using a Tagged URL for Tracking Vanity URLs

This is the easiest way to track how many people are coming to the site via your vanity URL or forwarded domain.

  1. Create your tracking URL. You can use Google’s tracking URL builder, Raven’s tracking URL builder, the custom tracking URL builder in your CMS if you’re using a tool like HubSpot, or whatever other way you prefer.
  2. Forward your vanity URL to your new tracking URL. In your domain registrar you can specify where you want the domain to redirect to; put in your full tracking URL there.
  3. Test! Visit the vanity URL. Does it redirect OK? Is it showing up in Analytics? Get familiar with digging into the different reports to find that data. You can also set up a custom dashboard, a custom data segment, etc. to easily pick out this traffic from the rest.

 And that’s it!

Questions? Unique scenarios that this doesn’t work for? Drop a comment and let us know!

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About Author

David Ward
David Ward

Dave is the CEO + Founder of Meticulosity and a serial entrepreneur who has spent his 20+ year professional career as an agency owner in digital marketing and web development space.

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